U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Allianz of America this week urging the company to adopt the active approach required by New York State's Department of Financial Services for contemporary claims in identifying beneficiaries for Holocaust-era policies. To view a copy of the letter, please click here. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Time after time, when paying Holocaust-era insurance claims is on the table, Allianz tries to change the subject to their contributions to reparations agreements and their participation in the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). This is no substitute for fulfilling their contractual obligations on Holocaust-era insurance policies.
"The numbers speak for themselves. ICHEIC paid 14,000 claims (with an additional 34,000 "humanitarian awards'), yet estimates of the number of pre-war Holocaust-era policies range in the hundreds of thousands.
"There is substantial work to be done in order to ensure that Holocaust survivors are granted justice, yet Allianz remains resistant. Allianz should be working with survivors to see that their needs are met and their claims settled instead of perpetuating injustice. It is my hope that Allianz and other European insurance companies will take the necessary steps to actively identify Holocaust-era policies eligible for payment and pay survivors the funds they are owed under these policies."
NOTE: H.R. 890, the Tom Lantos Justice for Holocaust Survivors Act, was authored by Ros-Lehtinen with her Florida colleague U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), and unanimously passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on March 7, 2012. This bipartisan measure, which currently has 82 co-sponsors, would allow survivors to avail themselves of state laws passed to allow them to have their day in court and to require European insurance companies conducting business in those states to disclose Nazi-era insurance policy information. The measure also establishes a federal right of action to recover proceeds due under the covered policies.